Read 1 Corinthians 13
Someone asked a talk-show hostess if she thought God loved her. She was taken aback by the question. It came at her out of left field, even though as a well known conservative, she was accustomed to being asked shocking questions. She answered the question as honestly as she knew how. The question is meaningless, she said, because that’s not enough.
Not enough? The way I read the Bible says not only is it enough, but it is the foundation upon what everything else is built.
“We love,” 1 John 4:19 says, “because he first loved us.”
She said love must be reciprocal or it is not love at all. The Word of God contends the truest form of love is that which is not returned. “Love you enemies” (Luke 6:27).
There is no such thing as unconditional love, she argues. But the Bible tells us the way we love isn’t enough. Showing love for the sake of being a good person gets us exactly nowhere in the eyes of God the Father. Our righteous acts are like filthy rags.
Jesus did not wait until he was in a symbiotic, mutually fulfilling love relationship with every person on the planet before he sacrificed his life to save us. “While we were still sinners--incapable of the heavenly idea of love--Christ died for us.”
Love. As they say in The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
While she officers some good advice, this woman has it all wrong when it comes to love.
Of course God desires our love and our devotion. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:27). Not out of duty, obligation or to be a good person and productive member of society should we love. We love because we were first loved and for the sake of love alone.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Three hundred years ago, Isaac Watts penned those words. God has shown unimaginable love for us from the moment he formed Adam from dust and Eve at his side. We should feel compelled to love and adore the One responsible for the very breath we breathe. He delights in the praises of his people. But our relationship will never be reciprocal. We cannot love him enough (even through loving others, as the interviewed woman suggests) to deserve his love.
Unconditional love is an absurd concept. I’ll give her that one. “If you love me, obey my commandments,” Jesus says (John 14:15). His commandments were simple in theory: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:27-28).
As often occurs, the instructions on page 1487 of the New Testament turns out more difficult in practice than theory. Impossible. It’s a good thing then “His Divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
“Through our knowledge of him who called us according to his own glory and goodness,” we are capable of the impossible. Unreciprocated, selfless love.